Local wins ‘Nurse of the Year’

A local nurse says she felt honored, as well as a bit overwhelmed, after receiving a top nursing award in the state oh Ohio.

Connie Brincefield, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at The Gardens of Wapakoneta, terms her career in nursing as a calling and could not imagine doing anything else. Brincefield recently attended the Ohio Assisted Living Association (OALA) Convention earlier this month and was honored with the award of “Nurse of the Year.”

“I didn’t even know I had been put in for a nomination,” Brincefield said. “I was surprised. It is an honor.”

The Gardens of Wapakoneta Director of Nursing Debbie McElroy submitted the nomination letter, nominating Brincefield for her hard work and dedication.

“…Connie is the most compassionate, kind nurse that I have had the privilege of ever working with,” McElroy said in the nomination letter she submitted to OALA. “The residents seek her out for everything. They, of course, know her for her med pass, but you will find her holding a tired hand, comforting a family for a sick or dying elder.”

Job duties of Brincefield include anything from answering telephones to taking care of the residents and serving the meals to whatever needs to be done.

“She does their admissions and comforts them during this time when they feel so lost because they are no longer able to be at home,” McElroy said.

Brincefield also is in charge of all scheduling for the nursing staff.

Brincefield said she feels it is a true calling to work in this profession.

“I do what I do because I love doing it,” Brincefield said. “I love taking care of people.”

McElroy agreed, as she mentioned this in her nomination letter.

“She feels it is true calling to serve the folks entrusted into her care daily and does so every day, all day, year after year,” McElroy said.

Brincefield said this award is a great honor.

“To be honored by someone you work with, that just takes my breath away,” Brincefield said. “With us being a small facility, I look at all assisted living facilities, and for me, someone in the small town of Wapakoneta to receive this award, it takes my breath away. It’s such an honor.”

Brincefield, who is from Wapakoneta and graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1966, said she always knew she wanted to live in Wapakoneta, as this is a place she truly calls home.

Her first husband, Tom Schuler, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) when he was 24, shortly after the couple married. Brincefield took care of him for 20 years, until he died at the age of 46. Also, she was a member of the Wapakoneta EMS for 22 years and had three children she raised, Eric, Craig and Kelley.

“When my youngest daughter had graduated in 1997, I decided to go to nursing school,” Brincefield said.

She attended Upper Valley Joint Vocational School, and received her nursing degree in 1999, and was hired at The Gardens of Wapakoneta shortly after the facility opened in 1999.

“I had a career in nursing a lot longer than I had been a nurse,” Brincefield said of the years she cared for her husband. “We had a lot of years with illness.”

Brincefield married her husband, Neal Brincefield, in 2006. She has three children, three step-children and 13 grandchildren.

Brincefield noted that her favorite part of her job is the people.

“I love the people, the residents and the staff,” Brincefield said. “Everyone is so friendly. It feels like home. When I walked into the door on my first day, I knew it was my calling.”